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FTC Violence Marketing Report Shows General Compliance

In a new report to Congress on marketing of violent content, the Federal Trade Commission says the movie, music and video game industries are generally complying with their self-regulatory efforts on the marketing of violent products , but still need to improve. It recommends further self-regulation, though, rather than any government action.

The FTC concluded that the industies did not target their marketing of  violent entertainment to children under 17, but it says that some advertisers are violating the industry's voluntary standard of placing those ads only in TV shows where 35% or less of the audience is under-17.

That came in a report on the marketing of violent movies, music and video games released Thursday. the report is a follow-up to one done in 2000, where the FTC found that advertisers routinely targeted kids with ads for violent entertainment, and has issued four subsequent reports each showing improvement.

Among the FTC recommendations in the report are that all three industries do a better job sticking to their voluntary guidelines, and it puts a particular emphasis on restricting ads for violent movies, videos, music and games to shows where the child audience does not exceed 35%.
It also advises that "the music industry should do a better job of displaying the Parental Advisory Label in television and online advertising," and urges that industry to adopt the same 35% cap that the movie and game industries have adopted, pointing out that the Recording Industry Association of America guidelines are not age based and put no prohibition on advertising explicit-content labeled CD's in kids shows (songs that use the kind of language that radio shock jock Don Imus has gotten in trouble for using).
The FTC did not suggest the government needed to step in, however. "Given important First Amendment considerations," the report said. "the Commission supports private sector initiatives by industry and individual companies to implement these suggestions. The Commission will continue to monitor this area, particularly as emerging technologies change the way these products are marketed and sold."

The FCC is expected to release a violence report soon that advises Congress that media content is increasingly violent and that Congress could find a constitutional way to expand the FCC's definition of indecency to include violent programming.

Commenting on the report, James Steyer, CEO of Common Sense Media, said; " I think it highlights the fact that violence in media is still a big issue. It shows there has been some progress in some marketing and sales practices, but self-regulation still has a long way to go to make parents and families happy."
We have to look at what else we need to do, which includes consumer education at point of puchase, which is Common Sense Media's emphasis. Common Sense is a consumer information resource on media content.

A key issue for Steyer is the marketing of violent movies in sports and entertainment shows like American Idol. " I think that is something the industry needs to deal with much more."

MPAA spokeswoman Gayle Osterberg said the report "affirms that the movie industry is doing a good job overall providing information to consumers and marketing films in an audience-appropriate manner.

She said the group welcomed the review and said it was "constantly working to maintain the movie ratings system as the gold standard of parental information tools."